My art practice involves the constant turning over and picking apart social narratives around theories of place, identity, community, and communication. Beauty looms over my illustration and art practice in the form of an irritant, a dystopian ideal, a distant Platonic value, a strange and unsettling shadow, and a tool (weapon?) of criticism, judgment, and justification.
Today I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking through a potential project that will put me up against my own lifelong discomfort with the term Beauty, while engaging others in the area in which I live in dialogue about ideas around Beauty. In sifting through the myriad notions and reactions I have to the term, I’ve become compelled toward the dismantling and dissection of the term Beauty through the following questions:
- How are our own identities, perceptions of place, and systems of community and communication tied to definitions of beauty most frequently (and unconsciously) constructed of base arguments from analogy?
- Is it possible that collective unpacking of elements used to develop these arguments from analogy might make space for Beauty as process of discernment rather than Beauty as an ultimate value?
I can directly tie my need to explore theories of place and identity to the fact that I am the child of a teacher and a U.S. Navy officer – and to decades of constant transience induced by my father’s career. But I want to know how other people struggle with ideas around Beauty, Place, and Identity – and if my own struggles with ideas around Beauty spring from my rootless childhood. I want to know if it is possible to turn dialogue(s) around ideas of beauty, place, identity, and community into opportunities for shared experience. Toward that end, I’m applying to a program that will allow me the space, time, and resources to bring these questions out into the light and share them with people in and around my city – with the goal of turning the resulting conversations into an illustrated treatise on our city’s ideas of Beauty. Perhaps, through all of this, through this engagement in dialogue, I’ll begin to solidify my own ideas around Beauty.
After thinking through all of this I worked through my ideas of Beauty as related to the body, for submission to a juried show upcoming at Ciel Gallery in Charlotte. As I started trying to apply my morning’s intellectual sifting and sorting to notions of the corporeal, I felt it necessary to apply my aesthetic to the figurative. Here are the results: